The project designed and tested a low-cost pavement quality indicator based on capacitance energy dissipation to measure density of asphalt pavements as a rapid, convenient, and safe alternative to nuclear gauge. A prototype system was designed (Figure 1) and tested on calibrated hot-mix asphalt cores of various thicknesses as well as on a variable-density stack of thin glass plates separated by measured air gaps to verify the system’s accuracy, repeatability, temperature stability, sensitivity, and time stability. Also, the effects of various probe configurations and carrier frequencies were investigated. The prototype was subjected to preliminary field tests, and modifications of the system were made that included fine-tuning of the electrical circuit. Three prototype units were fabricated for field evaluation. The field test results were carried out at six sites in Nevada, New York, and Indiana. The field results showed that the instrument measures to a 2.5-in. depth at a speed of about 5 seconds per reading with good accuracy and reproducibility. The field performance was unaffected by temperature and moisture variations. The probe and the sensor circuit were redesigned to improve their accuracy. A market research study was conducted to determine the competition and demand for the IDEA product. The final report is available from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS #PB97-201503).
The final report for this IDEA project can be found at: